Two county veterans to enter Hall of Fame for Valor

Submitted by Fayette Co. Historical Society

John Wrobbel

John Wrobbel

James A. Ducey

Two Fayette County veterans have been chosen to be inducted into the Ohio State Military Hall of Fame for Valor on May 5, 2023. The ceremony will take place in the Ohio Statehouse Atrium. The veterans who posthumously will be inducted are James A. “Red” Ducey and John Wrobbel.

James A. Ducey — Most decorated service member in Fayette County

James Aloysius Ducey, his friends called him “Red,” was born in Washington Court House, Ohio on July 30, 1886. He attended school and later worked at the Wonder Stove Company, here. It is said he was a metal polisher. This lifestyle all changed with the onset of World War 1. James enlisted in the Marine Corps on April 18, 1917, at the age of 31.

Sergeant Ducey is one of 16 Marines who survived the decimation of the old Eighteenth Company, Fifth Regiment, overseas. When that fearless company went into action on the Verdun Front 17 March, 1918, it had a wartime strength of 180 men. During his time in service to his country, he was involved with the following battles, skirmishes, or engagements. Verdun – March 17/31, 1918, Chateau Thierry – June 1- July 8, 1918, Soissons – July17/23, 1918, Pont-à-Mousson – August 8/17, 1918, St. Mihiel – September 12/15, 1918, Champagne – October 1/10, 1918, Argonne – November 1/11, 1918, March to The Rhine – November 17-December 12, 1918 and Army of Occupation – December 13, 1918-May 12, 1919.

Sergeant James Ducey received two Silver Star Citations as well as two French Croix de Guerre, in a period, from June 6, 1918 through July 22, 1918. His citation for the one he received at Belleau Wood on June 13, 1918 reads: “During an attack this man and another advanced on an enemy machine gun which was firing on our attacking waves, engaged a German officer and two men in hand-to-hand battle, killed them and captured the machine gun, thus enabling our attacking waves at this point.”

When he returned home, after World War 1, the city rolled out the red carpet for him. He was met at the train station by city dignitaries, a marching band and between 2,500-3,000 people. They created a procession for this hero that wound through the streets and eventually to the front door of his aged mother’s home. Since that time, this has never been done for any other returning military persons. James A. Ducey is Fayette County’s most decorated service member.

Among the awards and medals that Red Ducey received are Two Silver Stars with device, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Force medal with three devices, the World War 1 Victory medal with five clasps, an Army of Occupation medal, Good Conduct medal with eight awards, the Selected Marine Corps Reserve medal, two Croix de Guerre medals with devices, and medals for the battles of: Verdun, St. Mihiel, and Chateau Thierry, the 2nd Infantry (Indian head) Division A.E.F medal, and lastly a VFW medal.

To continue with his accomplishments, he was stationed in Guam for a period of four years, after World War 1. He served as a Military Police Chief while there. As for the remainder of his enlistments, he was promoted to the rank of First Sergeant while in Guam in 1932. Promoted to Sergeant Major, in 1937 and served in World War II as a Chief Warrant Officer from a period of 6-NOV-42 through 28-AUG-46. More specifically his designation was that of “Gunner.” This title is quite rare and the insignia for it is in the design of an exploding bomb. This insignia is only worn by individuals with the “Gunner” designation. These officers are of a specific type that are proficient in all weapons in the Marine Corps arsenal.

James A. Ducey moved back to the Washington Court House area after his retirement. He was a long time member of the Eagles. He joined this fraternal organization between 1903 and 1910. He was president of the organization in 1947. He remained active working as the custodian of the new Eagles facility. James Ducey was a patriot. There is a news article from a local paper where he observed the number of flags that were not hung correctly on houses and businesses during the Decoration Day holiday. “Red” Ducey was in demand as a speaker with local clubs and groups to speak about his time in the wars. He was always glad to accommodate them. He was a member of the VFW. In 1975, a VFW post was named in his honor. It was the Burnett-Ducey Post No. 4964. It ceased operation in 2019.

James A. Ducey passed away on Jan. 13, 1952. He was given a funeral mass at the Catholic Church and his casket was borne to the cemetery upon a caisson pulled by a military deuce and a half and laid to rest with full military honors. His procession was taken through the center of town and streets were lined with people honoring this individual.

John Wrobbel

John Wrobbel, of Bloomingburg, is the one person in the county to receive The Distinguished Service Cross, our nation’s second highest award for Valor. Only the Medal of Honor ranks above it.

John Wrobbel was born December 6, 1875, in Germany. He immigrated to the United States when he was quite young. In 1893, at the age of 23, he was in the U.S. Army and served in the Spanish American War. Records from this era show that his occupation in the Army was that of a cook. He was also known as a trumpet player with several articles mentioning him playing at local clubs in the San Antonio, Texas area during this time. He received a citation for bravery and also was at San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders.

During World War 1, John was with an Ohio National Guard unit that was activated for the war. He was a cook/baker with Supply Company, 166 Infantry, 42nd Division, A.E.F. These units were a part of the famous Rainbow Division.

The following entry for John Wrobbel, from the book Heroes ALL reads, – “For extraordinary heroism in action in the Champagne Sector, France, July 15-18, 1918. During the heaviest bombardment, Cook Wrobbel regularly supplied hot meals to his men. On July 16, his kitchen was demolished by shell bursts and a large number of rations destroyed, but he remained at his post after all assistants had sought safety.” He had the honor of having his medal pinned on by General John Pershing, himself.

At the end of the war, Wrobbel moved to Bloomingburg. Here he started the Golden Loaf Bakery. After a fire in his original building, the bakery moved to the Masonic building, in the village. Here he employed over 40 local people and had a very successful small town bakery. The bakery produced over 20,000 loaves of bread each day. The Golden Loaf Bakery supplied baked goods to the Cincinnati, Columbus, Lancaster, and Springfield, metro areas as well as smaller locations. This small town independent bakery operated for over 20 years in Bloomingburg.

John Wrobbel died on March 14, 1941. He was 66-years-old. He was laid to rest with full military honors in the Bloomingburg Cemetery. He was buried in his American Legion uniform with his Distinguished Service Cross.

John Wrobbel Wrobbel

James A. Ducey A. Ducey

Submitted by Fayette Co. Historical Society